Last year, as part of their studies in the Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Universal Design Certificate Program, two undergraduate students, Lauren Brown and Kennedy Guess, wrote and received an Inclusive Excellence Student Program Grant for $9,975. The Inclusive Excellence funds were awarded to the HDI in September to host a Still We Rise banquet that will recognize the strengths and resilience of students who have overcome extreme circumstances. Along with the Human Development Institute, partners on the Still We Rise banquet include the UK Disability Resource Center, Student Support Services, and the Martin Luther King Center.
Nominations are now open for the Still We Rise 2019 award. To nominate a student, submit a brief personal statement from the student, student resume, and a letter of support from UK faculty/staff or from a fellow student. Deadline to nominate is December 15, 2018. All materials can be submitted electronically to Kennedy Guess: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kennedy Guess, a senior in the communications and sciences disorders program and an HDI universal design certificate student, is spearheading the grant effort. Honoring the resiliency of fellow UK students is particularly important to Guess as she herself has experienced and overcome obstacles in her journey, including depression. “On the outside my life looked perfect. I had great grades. But, no one saw how hard it was for me to get out of bed every day,” she said. “When I told my parents I was suicidal, they made the right choice to take me out of school,” Guess continued. “I’ve been very grateful for their intervention in that moment and for their unconditional support for me over the years. After my semester off, I came back to UK determined to help other students who might be struggling like I am.”
The Still We Rise banquet will celebrate the diversity of students at the University of Kentucky and honor undergraduate students who have persisted through obstacles and are on track to graduate. “Adversity looks different for each person,” Guess said. “Adversity could mean you are going to school with a disability, you’ve lost a parent while in college, you work night shifts to pay for college, or you’re struggling with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Everyone you meet here has a story that you can’t see.”
Students selected for award will be honored at the Still We Rise banquet on February 21, 2019 at the Gatton Student Center.